Spain finalises mass emergency plan for acts of terrorism, mass murders, natural disasters and explosions

IN the event of a serious incident taking place in Spain, the Government and Civil Protection Unit are finalising the roll-out of a mass warning system. This will alert people of the danger posed in a specific area and the actions that should be taken to ensure their safety.

Sources close to the Ministry indicate that data will be collected from telephone providers where in the case of an emergency, an alert will be sent through SMS to mobile phones. This would include situations such as acts of terrorism, bombs, chemical explosions and mass murders.

Texts with messages such as ‘Detected chemical accident in XX. Stay at home with the windows closed until further notice’ would be received by registered mobile phone users shortly after the incident occurs.

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The alert system is already being used in countries such as Japan, Canada and the United States. Credit: RICARD CUGAT.

The innovative emergency alert system is already used in European countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium as well as in Japan, the United States and Canada.

Currently, Spain uses a siren system, however much criticism was made on its application after the chemical explosion took place in La Canonja, Tarragona earlier this week. It has transpired that no warnings or alerts were made to the surrounding community, leaving many unaware of the serious dangers posed in the area.  

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Devastation after the explosion at the petrochemicals of Tarragona. Credit: Mossos d’Esquadra.

Miquel Buch, the Minister of Interior condemned the non-activation of the sirens after the chemical emergency, calling on the government to accelerate the implementation of the new warning system. He stated that the new warnings will be very useful in cases such as a natural disaster, terrorist attacks or nuclear explosions. 

It is understood that Movistar and Vodafone have already met with state technicians, where the new system will allow messages to be sent out to individuals in a specific area provided that they have signal.

The new mass alert system will be in operation by June 2022 and within that time work will be carried out to ensure its compliance with the European Code of Electronic Communications. It will also be approved by the Congress of Deputies, according to sources from the Secretary of State for Telecommunications.

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Isha Sesay